Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Beauty is Embarrassing

A bit of critical distance would well have served the fawning and overindulgent biodoc "Beauty is Embarrassing," about the painter and "Pee Wee's Playhouse" puppeteer Wayne White. The more time we spend in White's company, the less interesting he becomes: vulgar, smug, self-aggrandizing. (He's the kind of person whose mother probably called him a prince growing up.) He talks about wanting to bring fun and humor into the art world, but I leave it to you whether painting profanities over thrift-store landscapes (see below) doubles you over with laughter. The movie only really takes off when it gets to the "Playhouse" part of White's life, and then primarily because of the people he worked with. The filmmakers take a brief time-out from their lovefest to showcase the generic, unfunny work of White's wife, the cartoonist Mimi Pond. As David Spade might say, I liked this movie better 17 years ago - when it was called "Crumb."

Word Paintings by Wayne White
Word Paintings by Wayne White

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